Learner’s Submission: Introduction to Aboriginals

“520,000 Aboriginal Indigenous Australians, 2.5% of the population, are living mostly in New South Wales and Queensland [1]. AlthoughAustralia is a developed country and MDGs do not target this country, Aboriginals score lower in all of the MDGs targets than their non-aboriginal citizens. For example:

MDG1: In 2006, approximately 45% of all Indigenous people were in the lowest income group [2].

DDG2:39% of indigenous students stayed on to year 12 at high school, compared with 75% for the Australian population as a whole [3].

MDG3: Less than 10 % of Indigenous women have a post-school qualification.Indigenous women sought refuge from family violence at a rate of 45 per 1000 population, compared with 3 per 1000 population of non-Indigenous women.

MDG5:In 2007 18% of Indigenous births were to teenage mothers compared to 3% of non-Indigenous births to teenage mothers.

Problem

One of the problems in engaging aboriginal communities is gaining their trust. Over the past decades, many NGOs and government initiatives had started in aboriginal communities. Many of them had been either terminated before time or showed to be ineffective. Aboriginal communities have been continually asked to have their say of different matters, without any results being delivered [4& 5]. The result is a great suspicion among aboriginal communities about new initiatives. The community is left disappointed, exhausted, and frustrated. There is a vibe among Indigenous communities that these initiatives are not worth to get involve in. Building trust is an essential in closing gap in any area including healthcare [6].

Solution

Usually NGOs and Government initiatives start an Aboriginal engaging project by specific agenda and timetable and targets. In many case, they conduct a survey or establish a reference group of local representatives and inform them about their agenda and targets. I believe some steps are missing.

Never approach the communities with your own agenda and beliefs. Changeyour mind set. You are there to work with them, not for them. Aboriginal community must feel that is in control of the program. The feeling of self-determination will build trust between community and NGOs and will spark a greater and stronger involvement.

Provide the communities with your facilities and support their efforts. The community should see that the NGO has the capacity and capability. This method may take longer than common form of engagement, but it will have a better chance success.

Establish a community focus group to revise the program performance and change where they suggest. The focus group should include representatives from the community, NGO, and NGO staff who work in the community.” – Javad Jazaeri -Victoria, Australia

References:

  1. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/DDAB99776D7ABDC7CA25762A001CC066?opendocument
  2. http://www.ncca.org.au/departments/natsiec/advocacy/indigenous-pover
  3. http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/A03CAD8F1C3F813BCA256E7D00002641
  4. http://www.yapa.org.au/youthwork/facts/aboriginalyoungpeople.php
  5. http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docswr/assets/main/documents/working_with_aboriginal.pdf
  6. http://www.racp.edu.au, Indigenous health and trust – hard to win, easy to lose
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